Tears On The Dancefloor is the fifth album, and the comeback that nobody particularly wanted, by 90s pop sensation Steps.
Happy is by far the strongest song on the record, with a thumping four-to-the-floor bass drum over mirrorball synths, creating the perfect Eurovision song. The lines “I used to be happy, we used to be happy” show the band at their emotional peak. Elsewhere, the intricate piano and string lines in Firefly are enough to deflect away from the awkward refrain “I am alive like a firefly”, while Space Between Us is a loose attempt at sounding like Calvin Harris, and reminds us there are actually five members in this group – the majority seem to be absent from most other songs.
The rest of the album is hard work. Opener Scared Of The Dark sounds as if the band has been held in a time capsule from 1999, creating something that sounds exactly like every other Steps song that existed before it. Story Of A Heart is an Abba cover, with vocal takes that sound incredibly lifeless, despite countless layers of harmonies.
It’s a lose/lose situation. When they try to be modern, like on You Make Me Whole, it backfires dramatically, and no amount of dancey synths or industrial kit sounds can prevent Steps coming across as a group of embarrassing parents at a kid’s disco, dancing out of time to the latest chart-topper.
But these are incomparable to No More Tears On the Dancefloor and Neon Blue. Both are identical in their emotionally hollow theme – fixing a broken heart by simply dancing.
The album serves no other purpose than to themselves, trying to relive the good old days.
Edited by Ginny Wong